Three-month 24-hour copper prices traded roughly flat on Thursday at $4,615 per ton. The red metal has slid steadily since the start of 2011 — bar a small rebound at the end of that year — and hasn't reached these depths since the fallout from the global financial crisis.
Copper's widespread use across different industries means it is often viewed as an indicator of global economic health, with declining prices indicating waning demand and a forthcoming slowdown. In particular, copper prices are linked to the health of China's manufacturing sector, as the world's second-biggest economy is the dominant consumer of industrial metals.
China's Caixin General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) read 48.3 in October, indicating a continued contraction in industrial activity.
Jessop said, however, that copper prices were "at best, a coincident indicator of the current state of demand, rather than a reliable guide to the future."
"Even if copper prices keep falling, this could still be consistent with an improvement in China's manufacturing PMI from current levels, provided prices decline at a slower pace," he added in his report.